Dodgers fans won't love Dave Roberts' Shohei Ohtani Derby take, but he's right

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers
Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

Shohei Ohtani entered his Home Run Derby debut in 2021 as the first seed, facing off against then-National Juan Soto. He hit 28 homers that evening to set the tone, but Soto punched back with 31 to advance to the next round. Ohtani hasn't gotten a second shot since then, but it makes sense that the NL's home run leader would want to take another stab at it after switching leagues into the spotlight.

After Tuesday's game, during which he hit his 24th home run and became the first Dodger with an RBI in nine straight games since Roy Campanella in 1955, he told Japanese reporters that he was interested in participating again, but with his current progress through rehab from an elbow surgery last year, it would involve a conversation with the team before he put his pink-accented hat in the ring.

It was a fair concern, and sure enough, Dave Roberts told reporters the next day that he didn't love the idea of Ohtani participating in the Derby. The Dodgers' manager stated, "The one side of it, for him to be in the Home Run Derby, it's great for baseball, clearly. The other side of it, on the manager of the Dodgers side of it, you're trying to be more cautious and appreciating the fact that there's a lot more swings, higher intensity, you know, going through the rehab process with his elbow."

Ultimately, Roberts left the final decision up to Ohtani ("So I think whatever he decides, I'll support it.") but made his opinion on the matter particularly clear.

Shohei Ohtani's rehab will probably keep him out of the Home Run Derby this year, and it might be for the best (for him and Dodgers)

Ohtani has been working through his throwing progression throughout the season, and has recently ramped up to throwing from 90 feet in the outfield during pregame workouts. Although there were some troubling whispers that he would be amenable to transitioning to the outfield if the Dodgers asked him to, he's moving forward with trying to get back to the mound in 2025.

Seeing Ohtani in the Derby again would be a lot of fun, but it's definitely not worth throwing a wrench into the gears of his progress and hindering the possibility of him pitching again next season or, for that matter, adding more stress to his elbow that could hurt his hitting this season.

Maybe next year, Dodgers fans. We're all but guaranteed to see him in the All-Star Game this year (he was running away with first place NL DH votes through two updates), so maybe he can bring that Derby mentality to the game and crush a few balls for an NL win.